Navigation Links
Computer viruses could take a lesson from showy peacocks
Date:8/29/2012

EAST LANSING, Mich. Computer viruses are constantly replicating throughout computer networks and wreaking havoc. But what if they had to find mates in order to reproduce?

In the current issue of Evolution, Michigan State University researchers created the digital equivalent of spring break to see how mate attraction played out through computer programs, said Chris Chandler, MSU postdoctoral researcher at MSU's BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action.

"This is actually a big question that still generates a lot of debate," said Chandler, who co-authored the study with Ian Dworkin, assistant professor of zoology, and Charles Ofria, associate professor of computer science and engineering. "People have some good ideas, but they can be hard to test really well in nature, so we decided to take a different approach."

The novel approach involved creating promiscuous programs in a virtual world called Avida, a software environment in which specialized computer programs compete and reproduce. Because mutations happen when Avidians copy themselves, which lead to differences in reproductive rates, these digital organisms evolve, just like living things, added Ofria, who created Avida.

The researchers programed the Avidians with the ability to grow sexual displays e-peacock tails of sorts. They also allowed them to choose mates randomly. As the researchers predicted, they usually went for the showiest mates. But why?

"One school of thought argues that the main benefit of choosing an attractive partner is that your offspring also will be sexy," said Dworkin. "In the other camp are those who argue that these sexual ornaments are a sign of good health, and so choosing a showy mate ensures that you'll get good genes to pass on to your offspring."

Traditionally, biologists thought that ornamental displays clue in potential mates about an individual's virility because the structures are costly, biologically speaking; only an animal in really good health could bear the burden they impose. So the researchers altered Avidians' genetic code to allow them to grow exaggerated displays practically for free.

They expected this change to diminish the evolutionary benefits of preferring showy mates, since even the wimpiest of Avidians could now grow enormous digital tail feathers.

"I was surprised when we didn't find that at all," Chandler said. "Even when we eliminated the costs of these displays, they still evolved to be an indicator of a male's genetic quality."


'/>"/>
Contact: Layne Cameron
layne.cameron@cabs.msu.edu
517-353-8819
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Computer simulations help explain why HIV cure remains elusive
2. Patel recognized with NSF Career Award for computer-modeling research on cell membranes
3. Computer scientists develop an interactive field guide app for birders
4. Computer model pinpoints prime materials for efficient carbon capture
5. 2 NASA visualizations selected for computers graphics showcase
6. RIKEN and Fujitsu complete operational testing of the K computer
7. 3-D motion of cold virus offers hope for improved drugs using Australias fastest supercomputer
8. Computers can predict effects of HIV policies
9. Eco-computer with a natural wood look
10. Molecular economics: New computer models calculate systems-wide costs of gene expression
11. NPointer from Neurotechnology Uses Hand Gestures to Control and Navigate Computer Programs Without a Mouse or Touchpad
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:10/4/2017)... , Oct. 4, 2017  GCE Solutions, a global clinical ... data and document anonymization solution on October 4, 2017. Shadow is ... field to comply with policy 0070 of the European Medicines Agency ... data. ... GCE Solutions ...
(Date:6/30/2017)... , June 30, 2017 Today, American ... and supplier of face and eye tracking software, ... Product provider program. "Artificial intelligence ... way to monitor a driver,s attentiveness levels while ... being able to detect fatigue and prevent potential ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... 16, 2017  Veratad Technologies, LLC ( www.veratad.com ), ... and identity verification solutions, announced today they will participate ... May 15 thru May 17, 2017, in ... Trade Center. Identity impacts the lives ... today,s quickly evolving digital world, defining identity is critical ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... Science Center’s FirstHand program has won a US2020 STEM Mentoring Award. Representatives of ... award for Excellence in Volunteer Experience from US2020. , US2020’s mission is to ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 10, 2017 , ... The Pittcon Program Committee is pleased ... scientists who have made outstanding contributions to analytical chemistry and applied spectroscopy. Each ... leading conference and exposition for laboratory science, which will be held February 26-March ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... Antonio, Texas (PRWEB) , ... ... ... new study published on October 5, 2017, in the medical journal, Epilepsia, ... equivalence with the gold standard, video EEG, in detecting generalized tonic-clonic seizures ...
(Date:10/6/2017)... , ... October 06, 2017 , ... ... a lunch discussion and webinar on INSIGhT, the first-ever adaptive clinical trial for ... Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The event is free and open to the public, but ...
Breaking Biology Technology: